Katharina Fritsch

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Katharina Fritsch, Rat King, 1993, polyester and paint, 110 x 512 inches. Rat King.jpg
Katharina Fritsch, Rat King, 1993, polyester and paint, 110 x 512 inches.
Katharina Fritsch, Dealer, 2001, polyester and paint, 75 x 23 x 16. Fritsch Dealer.jpg
Katharina Fritsch, Dealer, 2001, polyester and paint, 75 x 23 x 16.
Hahn/Cock (2010) Katharina Fritsch - Hahn-Cock - on Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London.jpg
Hahn/Cock (2010)

Katharina Fritsch (born 14 February 1956) is a German sculptor. [1] She lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany. [1]

Düsseldorf Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Düsseldorf is the capital and second-largest city of the most populous German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia after Cologne, as well as the seventh-largest city in Germany, with a population of 617,280. At the confluence of the Rhine and its tributary Düssel, the city lies in the centre of both the Rhine-Ruhr and the Rhineland Metropolitan Regions with the Cologne Bonn Region to its south and the Ruhr to its north. Most of the city lies on the right bank of the Rhine. The city is the largest in the German Low Franconian dialect area. "Dorf" meaning "village" in German, the "-dorf" suffix is unusual in the German-speaking area for a settlement of Düsseldorf's size.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.


Early life and education

Katharina Fritsch was born on February 14, 1956 in Essen, West Germany. [1] Fritsch first studied history and art history at the University of Münster and, in 1977, transferred to Kunstakademie Düsseldorf where she was a student of Fritz Schwegler until 1984.[ citation needed ]

Essen Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Essen is the central and second largest city of the Ruhr, the largest urban area in Germany. Its population of 583,393 makes it the ninth largest city of Germany, as well as the fourth largest city of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. On the Ruhr and Emscher rivers, Essen geographically is part of the Rhineland and the larger Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region. The Ruhrdeutsch regiolect spoken in the region has strong influences of both Low German (Westphalian) and Low Franconian.

West Germany Federal Republic of Germany in the years 1949–1990

West Germany was the informal name for the Federal Republic of Germany, a country in Central Europe, in the period between its formation on 23 May 1949 and German reunification on 3 October 1990. During this Cold War period, the western portion of Germany was part of the Western Bloc. The Federal Republic was created during the Allied occupation of Germany after World War II, established from eleven states formed in the three Allied zones of occupation held by the United States, the United Kingdom and France. Its (provisional) capital was the city of Bonn. The Cold War era West Germany is unofficially historically designated the Bonn Republic.

University of Münster German public university

The University of Münster is a public university located in the city of Münster, North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany.


Katharina Fritsch is known for her sculptures and installations that reinvigorate familiar objects with a jarring and uncanny sensibility. Her works' iconography is drawn from many different sources, including Christianity, art history and folklore. She attracted international attention for the first time in the mid-1980s with life-size works such as a true-to-scale elephant. Fritsch's art is often concerned with the psychology and expectations of visitors to a museum.

Sculpture Artworks that are three dimensional objects

Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving and modelling, in stone, metal, ceramics, wood and other materials but, since Modernism, there has been an almost complete freedom of materials and process. A wide variety of materials may be worked by removal such as carving, assembled by welding or modelling, or molded or cast.

Installation art three-dimensional work of art, usually from various materials and larger than a sculpture. For the art genre, use Q212431.

Installation art is an artistic genre of three-dimensional works that often are site-specific and designed to transform the perception of a space. Generally, the term is applied to interior spaces, whereas exterior interventions are often called public art, land art or intervention art; however, the boundaries between these terms overlap.

Gary Garrels wrote that “One of the remarkable features of Fritsch’s work is its ability both to capture the popular imagination by its immediate appeal and to be a focal point for the specialized discussions of the contemporary art world. This all too infrequent meeting point is at the center of her work, as it addresses the ambiguous and difficult relationships between artists and the public and between art and its display—that is, the role of art and exhibitions and of the museum in the late twentieth century.” [2] The special role colour plays in Fritsch's work has roots in her childhood visits to her grandfather, a salesman for Faber-Castell art supplies, whose garage was well-stocked with his wares. [3]

Faber-Castell company

Faber-Castell is one of the world's largest and oldest manufacturers of pens, pencils, other office supplies and art supplies, as well as high-end writing instruments and luxury leather goods. Headquartered in Stein, Germany, it operates 14 factories and 20 sales units throughout the globe. The Faber-Castell Group employs a staff of approximately 7,000 and does business in more than 100 countries. The House of Faber-Castell is the family which founded and continues to exercise leadership within the corporation. They manufacture about 2 billion pencils in 120 different colors every year.

Her most recognized works are Rattenkönig/Rat King (1993), a giant circle of black polyester rats, included in the Venice Biennale in 1999. Other works include Mönch (Monk) (2003), a stoic, monochromatic male figure, made of solid polyester with a smooth, matte black surface; Figurengruppe / Group of Figures (2006-2008), an installation of nine elements; and Hahn/Cock (2010), a 14 ft (4.3m) cockerel in ultramarine blue to be shown on London's Trafalgar Square Fourth plinth from July 2013 to January 2015. [4]

Venice Biennale Biennial art exhibit

The Venice Biennale refers to an arts organization based in Venice and the name of the original and principal biennial exhibition the organization presents. The organization changed its name to the Biennale Foundation in 2009, while the exhibition is now called the Art Biennale to distinguish it from the organisation and other exhibitions the Foundation organizes.

<i>Hahn/Cock</i> sculpture by Katharina Fritsch

Hahn/Cock is a sculpture of a giant blue cockerel by the German artist Katharina Fritsch. It was unveiled in London's Trafalgar Square on 25 July 2013 and was displayed on the vacant fourth plinth. The fibreglass work stood 4.72 metres (15.5 ft) high and was the sixth work to be displayed on the plinth, on which it stayed until 17 February 2015. It was subsequently acquired by Glenstone, a private museum, and exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, following its 2016 reopening.

Trafalgar Square Public space and tourist attraction in central London

Trafalgar Square is a public square in the City of Westminster, Central London, built around the area formerly known as Charing Cross. Its name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars over France and Spain that took place on 21 October 1805 off the coast of Cape Trafalgar.

In her working process, Fritsch combines the techniques of traditional sculpture with those of industrial production. While many of her early works were handcrafted, Fritsch now makes only the models for her sculptures and then hands these over to a factory for production, to "near-pathological specifications". [5] She uses these models to create moulds, from which the final sculptures are cast in materials such as plaster, polyester and aluminium. Many are made as editions, meaning that multiple casts are taken from one mould. [6] For the duration of some of her exhibitions, Fritsch has made her multiples available for sale at the respective museums.

When working with human forms, Fritsch often collaborates with a model named Frank Fenstermacher. One of her muses, [7] he “stands for the generic ‘man’” in works such as her three ‘bad’ men: The Monch, the Doktor and the Handler. [7] Fritsch explains her prolonged working relationship with Frank in terms of expression: "Somehow Frank's able to express what I want to express. I don't know why. Maybe he looks a little bit like my father, or like me. And he's a kind of actor. It's very strange how he can change from one character to another without appearing to do anything. He's always the man." [8] Fritsch's process in creating human figures is similar to her animal or object creations, except a live human is involved. She takes photographs of the model, trying out ideas and recording the details of the model's position. In the creation of the mold, she and her plaster technicians cover the model in vaseline and create the mold on top. After a dramatic, near death situation in which Frank was covered in too much plaster and turned blue, with his head “lolling forwards” [7] Fritsch has made fully body casts from mannequins. She still uses human models for the face and hands of her figures. After Fritsch is happy with the plaster mold, she uses silicon to make a negative model and then polyester to create a positive form from the silicon. [7] The different pieces are painstakingly put together because “the surface has to be absolutely perfect.” [7] Fritsch then paints or sprays the sculpture to finish it.

In her work, Fritsch has been credited in continuing the work of Marcel Duchamp by responding to his ideas and change viewers’ perceptions of them. For example, Fritsch's first major piece in the Museum of Modern Art's collection was Black Table with Table Ware (1985). [9] It, outside of a museum, could be seen as an everyday object but it is “strangely symmetrical” [9] and placed in a museum context, changing the viewer's approach to it, much like Duchamp.

In 2001, Fritsch was appointed Professor of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts, Münster, a post she held until 2010. She is currently Professor of Sculpture at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.


Fritsch showed her first sculptures in 1979. Her international breakthrough came in 1984 at Düsseldorf's ‘Von hier aus’ (From Here On) exhibition. In 1988 she exhibited at the Kunsthalle Basel and in 1997 at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst. [10] Her first major exhibition in the U.S. was held at Dia Center for the Arts in 1993. [11] In 1995 Fritsch represented Germany along with artists Thomas Ruff and Martin Honert in the German Pavilion, which was curated by Jean-Christophe Ammann, at the Venice Biennale. [12] Her work has since been the subject of exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Modern, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago as well as of a survey exhibition at Kunsthaus Zurich and Deichtorhallen (2009). In 2012, an exhibition of her work was installed on the Bluhm Family Terrace at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Other solo exhibitions have included:

1984- Katharina Fritsch Rudiger Schottle, Munich

1985- Katharina Fritsch Galerie Johnen & Schottle, Cologne

1987- Katharina Fritsch: Elefant Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Krefeld, West Germany

1988- Katharina Fritsch Kunsthalle Basel and Institute of Contemporary Arts, London

1989- Katharina Fritsch Westfalischer Kunstverein, Munster [13]

2017 - Multiples, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, United States [14]

Her work has also been shown internationally alongside other artists at the Carnegie Museum of Art (1991), [15] Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, Germany (1991), [16] Verlag Gerd Hatje in Stuttgart, Germany (1997), [17] The Jewish Museum in San Francisco (2004), [18] Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art in Greece (2004), [19] The Museum of Modern Art in New York (2008), [20] and the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea (2010). [21]

Public collections

Fritsch's work is currently represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart; and the Museum Brandhorst, Munich.

Art market

She has been represented by Matthew Marks Gallery in New York since 1994, and has exhibited with White Cube in London. [22]


See also

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  1. 1 2 3 "Katharina Fritsch: Artist Biography"' Archived 2015-09-06 at the Wayback Machine , Dia Art Foundation, Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  2. Gary Garrels, “Katharina Fritsch: An Introduction,” in Katharina Fritsch (San Francisco: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1996), 12.
  3. Colour Chart: Reinventing Colour, 1950 to Today Moma.
  4. Mark Brown (January 14, 2011), Fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square gets (no sniggering) a 14ft blue cock The Guardian.
  5. White Cube, London.
  6. http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/katharina-fritsch
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 Katharina Fritsch. London: Tate Publishing. 2002. pp. 93–109. ISBN   0-8109-6268-3.
  8. Gayford, By Martin. "The rodent that roared". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  9. 1 2 Storr, Robert (1997-01-01). "The Here and Now That's Here to Stay". MoMA (26): 19–21. JSTOR   4381368.
  10. KATHARINA FRITSCH, June 3 - August 30, 2009 Kunsthaus Zürich.
  11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-06-13. Retrieved 2011-01-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. "History of the German Pavilion", Deutscher Pavilion, Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  13. Culture and Commentary An Eighties Perspective. Washington, D.C.: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. 1990. p. 174. ISBN   0-9623203-2-3.
  14. "She's the artist behind that giant blue chicken coming to Minneapolis Sculpture Garden". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
  15. "Cleveland Institute of Art | Contemporary Artists Index". gate3.cia.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  16. "Cleveland Institute of Art | Contemporary Artists Index". gate3.cia.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  17. "Cleveland Institute of Art | Contemporary Artists Index". gate3.cia.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  18. "Cleveland Institute of Art | Contemporary Artists Index". gate3.cia.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  19. "Cleveland Institute of Art | Contemporary Artists Index". gate3.cia.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  20. "Cleveland Institute of Art | Contemporary Artists Index". gate3.cia.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  21. "Cleveland Institute of Art | Contemporary Artists Index". gate3.cia.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  22. Katharina Fritsch Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.

Selected bibliography